We of the Never-Never
357 Pages
English
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We of the Never-Never

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357 Pages
English

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of We of the Never-Never by Jeanie "Mrs. Aeneas" GunnCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check the copyright laws for your country before downloadingor redistributing this or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do notchange or edit the header without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about the eBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of thisfile. Included is important information about your specific rights and restrictions in how the file may be used. You can alsofind out about how to make a donation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****Title: We of the Never-NeverAuthor: Jeanie "Mrs. Aeneas" GunnRelease Date: November, 2003 [EBook #4699] [Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule] [This file was firstposted on March 3, 2002] [Date last updated: August 15, 2003]Edition: 10Language: English*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK WE OF THE NEVER-NEVER ***This etext was produced by Geoffrey Cowling.We Of The Never-NeverBy Jeanie "Mrs. Aeneas" GunnDedicated To"The Bush Folk OF THE NEVER-NEVER"PRELUDEWe—are just some of the bush-folk of the ...

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The Project Gutenberg EBook of We of the Never-
Never by Jeanie "Mrs. Aeneas" Gunn
Copyright laws are changing all over the world. Be
sure to check the copyright laws for your country
before downloading or redistributing this or any
other Project Gutenberg eBook.
This header should be the first thing seen when
viewing this Project Gutenberg file. Please do not
remove it. Do not change or edit the header
without written permission.
Please read the "legal small print," and other
information about the eBook and Project
Gutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included is
important information about your specific rights and
restrictions in how the file may be used. You can
also find out about how to make a donation to
Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.
**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla
Electronic Texts**
**eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By
Computers, Since 1971**
*****These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands
of Volunteers!*****
Title: We of the Never-NeverAuthor: Jeanie "Mrs. Aeneas" Gunn
Release Date: November, 2003 [EBook #4699]
[Yes, we are more than one year ahead of
schedule] [This file was first posted on March 3,
2002] [Date last updated: August 15, 2003]
Edition: 10
Language: English
*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG
EBOOK WE OF THE NEVER-NEVER ***
This etext was produced by Geoffrey Cowling.
We Of The Never-Never
By Jeanie "Mrs. Aeneas" Gunn
Dedicated To
"The Bush Folk OF THE NEVER-NEVER"PRELUDE
We—are just some of the bush-folk of the Never-
Never.
Distinct in the foreground stand:
The Maluka, The Little Missus, The Sanguine Scot,
The Head Stockman, The Dandy, The Quiet
Stockman, The Fizzer, Mine Host, The Wag, Some
of our Guests, A few black "boys" and lubras, A
dog or two, Tam-o'-Shanter, Happy Dick, Sam Lee,
and last, but by no means least, Cheon—the ever-
mirthful, ever-helpful, irrepressible Cheon, who was
crudely recorded on the station books as cook and
gardener.
The background is filled in with an ever-moving
company—a strange medley of Whites, Blacks,
and Chinese; of travellers, overlanders, and
billabongers, who passed in and out of our lives,
leaving behind them sometimes bright memories,sometimes sad, and sometimes little memory at
all.
And All of Us, and many of this company, shared
each other's lives for one bright, sunny year, away
Behind the Back of Beyond, in the Land of the
Never-Never; in that elusive land with an elusive
name—a land of dangers and hardships and
privations yet loved as few lands are loved—a land
that bewitches her people with strange spells and
mysteries, until they call sweet bitter, and bitter
sweet. Called the Never-Never, the Maluka loved
to say, because they, who have lived in it and
loved it Never-Never voluntarily leave it. Sadly
enough, there are too many who Never-Never do
leave it. Others—the unfitted—will tell you that it is
so called because they who succeed in getting out
of it swear they will Never-Never return to it. But
we who have lived in it, and loved it, and left it,
know that our hearts can Never-Never rest away
from it.WE OF THE NEVER-
NEVER
CHAPTER I
To begin somewhere near the beginning, the
Maluka—better known at that time as the new
Boss for the Elsey—and I, his "missus," were at
Darwin, in the Northern Territory, waiting for the
train that was to take us just as far as it could—
one hundred and fifty miles—on our way to the
Never-Never. It was out of town just then, up-
country somewhere, billabonging in true bush-
whacker style, but was expected to return in a day
or two, when it would be at our service.
Jack, the Quiet Stockman, was out at the
homestead, "seeing to things" there. The Sanguine
Scot, the Head Stockman, and the Dandy, were in
at the Katherine, marking time, as it were, awaiting
instructions by wire from the Maluka, while some of
the Company "put finishing touches" to their New
Year celebrations. And every one, with, of course,
the exception of those in Darwin, was blissfully
unconscious of even the existence of the Maluka's
missus. Knowing the Maluka by repute, however,
every one was agreed that the "Elsey had struck it
lucky," until the telegraph wire, whispering thegossip of Darwin to the Katherine, whispered that
the "new Boss for the Elsey had been and gone
and married a missus just before leaving the
South, and was bringing her along with him." Then
the Sanguine Scot was filled with wrath, the
Company with compassion, while the Dandy's
consternation found relief in a dismayed "Heavens
above!" (The Dandy, by the way, was only a dandy
in his love of sweet, clean clothes and orderly
surroundings. The heart of the man had not a
touch of dandyism in it.) The Head Stockman was
absent in his camp. Had he been present, much
might have been said on the "advantages of having
a woman about the place." The Wag, however,
retained his usual flow of speech and spirits.
"Buck up, chaps!" he chuckled encouraging!
"They're not all snorters, you know. You might
have the luck to strike one of the "ministering angel
variety."
But the Sanguine Scot had been thinking rapidly,
and with characteristic hopefulness, felt he had the
bull by the horns. "We'll just have to block her,
chaps; that's all," he said. "A wire or two should do
it"; and, inviting the Dandy "to come and lend a
hand," led the way to the telegraph office; and
presently there quivered into Darwin the first hint
that a missus was not wanted at the Elsey.
"Would advise leaving wife behind till homestead
can be repaired," it said; and, still confident of
success, Mac felt that "ought to do the trick." "If it
doesn't," he added, "we'll give her somethingstronger."
We in Darwin, having exhausted the sight-seeing
resources of the little town, were wishing
"something interesting would happen," when the
message was handed to the Maluka.
"This may do as a stopgap," he said, opening it,
adding as he read it, "It looks brimful of possibilities
for interested onlookers, seeing it advises leaving
the wife behind." The Maluka spoke from
experience, having been himself an interested
onlooker "down south," when it had been
suggested there that the wife should be left behind
while he spied out the land; for although the
Maluka knew most of the Territory, he had not yet
been to the Elsey Cattle Station.
Preferring to be "the interested onlooker" myself
this time, when we went to the telegraph office it
was the Maluka who wired: "Wife coming, secure
buggy", and in an incredibly short space of time the
answer was back: "No buggy obtainable."
Darwin looked interested. "Mac hasn't wasted
much time in making inquiries," it said.
"Or in apologies or explanations," the Maluka
added shortly, and sent in reply: "Wife can ride,
secure suitable mount."
But the Sanguine Scot's fighting blood was up, and
almost immediately the wire rapped out: "No side-
saddle obtainable. Stock horses all flash"; and the
onlookers stared in astonishment."Mac's in deadly earnest this time," they said, and
the Maluka, with a quiet "So am I," went back to
the telegraph.
Now, in the Territory everybody knows everybody
else, but particularly the telegraph people; and it
often happens that when telegrams of general
interest are passing through, they are
accompanied by confidential asides—little scraps
of harmless gossip not intended for the
departmental books; therefore it was whispered in
the tail of the last message that the Katherine was
watching the fight with interest was inclined to
"reckon the missus a goer," and that public
sympathy was with the stockman—the Katherine
had its women-folk and was thankful; but the
Katherine knew that although a woman in a
settlement only rules her husband's home, the wife
of a station-manager holds the peace and comfort
of the stockmen in the hollow of her hand.
"Stock horses all flash," the Sanguine Scot said,
and then went out and apologised to an old bay
horse. "We had to settle her hash somehow,
Roper, old chap," he said, stroking the beautiful
neck, adding tenderly as the grand old head nosed
into him: "You silly old fool! You'd carry her like a
lamb if I let you."
Then the Maluka's reply came, and Mac whistled in
amazement. "By George!" he said to those near
him, "she IS a goer, a regular goer"; and after
much careful thought wired an inane suggestionabout waiting until after the Wet.
Darwin laughed outright, and an emphatic: "Wife
determined, coming Tuesday's train," from the
Maluka was followed by a complete breakdown at
the Katherine.
Then Darwin came in twos and threes to discuss
the situation, and while the men offered every form
of service and encouragement, the women-folk
spoke of a woman "going bush" as "sheer
madness." "Besides, no woman travels during the
Wet," they said, and the Maluka "hoped she would
prove the exception."
"But she'll be bored to death if she does reach the
homestead alive," they prophesied; and I told them
they were not very complimentary to the Maluka.
"You don't understand," they hastened to explain.
"He'll be camping out most of his time, miles away
from the homestead," and I said, "So will I."
"So you think," they corrected. "But you'll find that
a woman alone in a camp of men is decidedly out
of place"; and I felt severely snubbed.
The Maluka suggested that he might yet succeed
in persuading some suitable woman to come out
with us, as maid or companion; but the opposition,
wagging wise heads, pursed incredulous lips, as it
declared that "no one but a fool would go out there
for either love or money." A prophecy that came
true, for eventually we went "bush" womanless.